The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to hire certified public accountant Nawrocki Smith LLP to perform an audit on the $3.1 million in building aid withheld by the state.
The district, which has an external auditor in R.S. Abrams, and an internal auditor in Cullen & Danowski, opted to bring in an external auditor with no relation to the district.
“The board felt that it was better to get a third opinion, an uninterested party, to come in and do a quick audit for us and give us all the information we’re looking for because we have to have answers for the community,” said Robert Rossi, Board of Education president following Tuesday’s meeting.
Rossi expects a preliminary report within “a couple weeks” and hopes this will prevent future paperwork filing errors.
“It’s time that we picked up an accounting firm, have them come in and do an audit, a forensic audit, [and] give us a trail because most of us don’t know what happened either,” Rossi said. “This way we all get an understanding of what took place, [and] we’ll give the community understanding … it was human error, but we’d like to find out what it is and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
In a phone interview, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick said withheld aid for late-filed paperwork is a somewhat common issue throughout the state and is currently preparing a local bill with state Sen. John Flanagan to stop the aid from being withheld.
“There’s about $55 million worth of this state aid, $3.1 million being from Smithtown but $55 million around the state, where forms have not been submitted because they missed various deadlines,” he said. “What the senator [John Flanagan] and I will do is make a bill, it will be a local bill, that will be more than likely taken up at the end of session … It’s our hope that we’ll move the bill up, I’m sure other members will put bills up to help their districts.”
Calls to state Sen. Flanagan were not returned.
Fitzpatrick said he is confidant his and state Sen. Flanagan’s bill will pass.
“I feel confident that a bill will pass, I’m hopeful the governor will sign it, but it wouldn’t be fair when you have money already encumbered for that aid to lose it because a report is filed late,” he said.
, consisting of building improvements such as classroom construction and additions to alterations to elementary school buildings, roof replacements and more, which began in 2000.